How we can change our perceptions of people so that we don't resent them or hold grudges, thus making forgiveness unnecessary.

 “You cannot forgive a person unless you have first condemned him.”
~Maxwell Maltz

Forgiveness is a common prescription. How many gurus, experts, and teachers have told you to practice daily forgiveness? How many times have you heard that you should forgive those who have hurt you in the past as well as in the past five minutes?

To forgive is said to be divine. To forgive every day is, supposedly, the road to happiness.

Forgiveness, however, does not translate well into a daily practice. Imagine reliving painful moments, crying, and sitting through your worst triggers every single day of your life. That would be exhausting.

Ultimately, forgiveness is like an antibiotic. It should be taken as a last resort. The first resort is prevention. Imagine what would happen if your first instinct was to relate to people in a way that rendered all forgiveness completely unnecessary.

Forgiveness, by definition, is the act of giving pardon. Would you forgive a butterfly for flying? Would you forgive a cloud for raining on you? A child for crying? Of course not. There is no need to forgive these things because you sense no wrongdoing. You have not made any judgment that forgiveness needs to erase.

When I first began my journey of self-revelation, I started forgiving people from my past. I’d been holding intense resentment against anyone and everyone who had hurt me in any big or little way. Forgiving people by the dozen felt like removing giant stones from my chest. Forgiveness seemed to me, at the time, a miracle.

Then, I came to forgiving those who were close to me.

I still remember the first time I sat with my family after I thought I’d become a completely different person. I still remember my shame as the same old anger grew intensely and uncontrollably within me. You know the feeling. Every word, every insult, every look was too much to bear. My face reddened, my heart sped, and my hands tingled. Suddenly, all of that forgiveness talk went right out the window.

After I calmed down, or more accurately after I left town, I could forgive. Miles away, it was easy. Still, I felt ashamed of my reaction. I promised myself I’d do better. I didn’t. Visit after visit, I’d reach my breaking point. I was ready to tear my hair out. I could forgive everyone else. What was I doing wrong?

Eventually, I found the flaw in my thinking: I kept assuming there was something to forgive. For me to forgive, I had to first judge what was being said or done to me as wrong, offensive, or hurtful. Then, I had to become upset, think of other situations when I’d felt upset like that, start to feel helpless, tense up, become irritated, brood, and so on. I had to go through that process until I reached boiling point. Then, and only then, I could practice forgiveness. If I never went there, there would be nothing to forgive.

Looking at people through the eyes of unconditional love, there’s nothing to forgive because no one wrongs me. I judge no one as having done wrong to myself or otherwise. The so-called “toxic people” that live all around me are like fish out of water. They are lacking in a basic life necessity, so they are struggling to stay alive. They hurt because they’re hurt. Ultimately, however, it has been and will always be my choice take their actions personally.

This is the difference in perception that you experience when you see through someone’s external form into what lies inside. When you see your friend, your enemy, and yourself as the same, that is love. When you can recognize the common element between those three people, then you know love.

And, with love, there’s no need for forgiveness.

Of course, learning to see people through the eyes of unconditional love takes time and practice. And we cannot expect ourselves to do it in every situation. Of course, we will slip up. I do all the time. But the point is that, if we choose love, again and again, soon enough, forgiveness becomes less necessary. We judge less and less.

If you’re suffering from resentment for someone, why not try taking a different look at the one who you believe has wronged you? Ask yourself:

  • Does this person have enough love in his or her life?
  • In what way were his actions symptoms of his or her own suffering?

Instead of seek to pardon, seek to understand. When you see your enemy’s actions and words as completely reasonable byproducts of his or her livelihood and experiences, then you do not need to forgive. You will have simply withdrawn judgment and added love.

* * *

Now, over to you. What are your experiences with forgiveness? When has it been difficult? When has it been easy? How can you incorporate loving acceptance as a substitute for forgiveness?

With Love, You Don’t Need Forgiveness

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Comments

  • July 15, 2013 at 10:28 pm
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    I agree that forgiveness is all to often the prescription to elevate pain, when one perceives to have been hurt.Like any tool when used continuously, it becomes dull and ineffective. However, the reality is we are emotional beings. As such we are prone to attack when there is a perceived threat. Now i agree that not all perception is accurate. Therefore forgiveness in such cases is useless. But forgiveness can be a utopia to those you who understand it’s value. When wielded with understanding it becomes a powerful weapon against the hate that breeds in the dark corners of our souls. After all There is a reason some of the wisest people through out history have advocated it’s positive properties. You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well. Forgiveness is the catalyst to learn how to love again. I enjoyed your article immensely Vironika. Live well my friend and keep up the good work.

    Reply
    • July 15, 2013 at 10:32 pm
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      Thank you for sharing, Jason. I’m glad this gave you much to think about! I agree that forgiveness is a wonderful tool and weapon against hate. I think it’s the best place to start. I started there too. Down the road, though, forgiveness is not the best we can do. We are, I agree, emotional creatures and we can use those emotions in a positive way. I say this not as a philosopher, but as a reformed, healed spiritual being. It’s possible. I live it every day. Live well, Jason. I always love reading your words!

      Reply
      • July 15, 2013 at 10:40 pm
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        Yes obtaining that level of enlightenment is something we all aspire to reach. However for those who have not reached that level, forgiveness is the most powerful tool we have to combat hate. I envy (although i should not) The fact that you have reached that level of enlightenment. To be immune to hurt must be divine.

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        • July 16, 2013 at 11:47 am
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          You know, Jason, that’s a very interesting comment. The hurt is still there sometimes. I still feel sadness and anger, but I don’t attach it to anything. No blame. No cause. No person’s fault. As a result, they wash over me and they go away. Emotions come on like bouts of sneezing, forgotten right after they come.

          With all I know of your courage and insight, I’d say you’re headed that way too, Jason! You’ve already come so far. Your wisdom stretches far beyond that of the ordinary man. To have gone to hell and back, this is why we are here talking this way. Those things we’ve had to forgive may have been awful, but have they not made us who we are?

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          • July 16, 2013 at 12:28 pm
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            As always your wisdom enlightens me Vironika. I have often thought if i could change the past would i. My conclusion is always the same. If i was able to change my past then the many opportunities i have experienced helping people would have been lost. So looking at this in hindsight God has changed me for the purpose of ministering hope to those who have none. So i now see my past as a blessing not a curse. Live well my friend. Oh by the way congratulations on your up and coming book i am sure it will do well. Leave the title and i will be sure to pick one up.

          • July 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm
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            Beautiful words, Jason. I’ve struggled with the same. Isn’t it so wonderful to live in peace with the past? I think that is one of the most important moves any of us can make.

            My book, The Love Mindset, will be coming out on the 15th of August. My exciting book trailer and the absolutely stunning cover that my designer’s just finishing up now will be done this week. I’ll be sure to shout it from the rooftops 🙂

          • July 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm
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            Thanks Vironika. I will be sure to grab a copy. Live well.

  • July 15, 2013 at 11:26 pm
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    …I believe only unconditional love can do away with the need for forgiveness. When love is bonded with hope, we bypass the need to forgive. When love is at a great depth, we have no need to come up near the surface where forgiveness lives. People offer forgiveness too quickly, and forget that it’s a product of love. Forgiveness is connected to friendship, kindness and even trust. Love is the foundation they all are built on.
    Thank you V, you are an amazing teacher (teaching people about themselves)…

    Reply
    • July 16, 2013 at 11:48 am
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      I couldn’t have said it better myself, Archie. I agree wholeheartedly. These days, you know, I just call it love. I don’t think the conditional version is love at all. It’s something quite different that’s gotten mixed up with love.

      And thank you for your kind words. Without listeners and learners, the teacher is just a voice. 🙂

      Reply
  • July 17, 2013 at 1:13 am
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    This is incredibly interesting; for want of a better term, it seems you found your zen. I couldn’t agree more with forgiveness being sparingly used. I remember reading a phrase once, “a little extra forgiveness never hurt.” Except it can. It can put someone in a position of anger and frustration. At worst, it can give them a superiority complex. Forgiveness and love is not about any of those things. This post hits it right on the head.

    Reply
    • July 18, 2013 at 11:34 am
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      I love that, Peter. “At worst, it can give them a superiority complex.” I think you’ve really got it there. How often do people say “I’ve forgiven you, but I can’t forget”? Then, they hold not the deed over the person’s head, but their own forgiveness. Forgiveness, in this way, becomes a weapon. In truth, forgiving and not forgetting is not forgiveness at all.

      Reply
  • July 18, 2013 at 3:38 am
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    Hi Vironika
    We have walked similar roads from slightly different directions that have brought us to the same space. That is probably why your posts resonate so well with me.
    My insight on forgiveness was the same you, you only need to forgive if you are still judging. I got there by realizing that at any given moment a person does the very best they can given what they have been taught, their experiences and state of mind at the time. This is a simple truth because if people were able to do better, they would have, ie it was the best they had at that moment.
    Once that was clear to me all ( nearly all ) judgments of people fell away. Once that happened there was nothing to forgive.
    I simplified my life mantras to “Judge nothing and no one, Love everything and everyone” nice and simple.
    Love & light Graham

    Reply
    • July 18, 2013 at 12:13 pm
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      Graham, that is so beautiful! I’m happy we’ve come to the same place.

      I had a similar change of outlook. I love how you say “if people were able to do better, they would have.” We really are all performing at our optimal level within our consciousness. It’s such a liberating thought 🙂

      Reply

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